Friday, February 1, 2013

On why this feed is about to be all about the Ravens.

I grew up in a home where we went to church on Sunday, listened to classical music, had elaborate dinner parties, watched Dynasty, and the only sport we played was shopping the 70% off sale at Talbots.

But, on Saturday afternoons, we dressed in scarlet and grey and screamed our heads off for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Football was something that everyone watched, lived, breathed. When the retired head coach, Woody Hayes*, passed away, my father (the pastor), walked into my bedroom and said, "Jacquelyn, get up, God died".

Gender or athletic ability had no impact on someone's commitment to football. Football existed. Like the sun comes up in the morning and the uprights get pulled down after the Ohio State/Michigan game (until they changed how they were made and stopped the annual upright carnage - spoil sports). And we loved it.

When I went to college, I went to one football game. And left before it was over. My liberal arts college was good at a lot of things. Football was not one of them. So, I started playing rugby. Tackling is fun.

When I moved to Minneapolis, I never fell in love with the Vikings. The 90s weren't good years for football in Minneapolis, people weren't passionate about it. The Packers fans, I understood. They lived and breathed their team. But they were never my team.

Then, I got a job offer in Baltimore. I honestly hesitated. This was the town that stole my Grandpa's favorite team. This was the town that now housed the hated Art Modell ( know, everyone loves him - it's hard to love him when your Mom's family is from Cleveland). But this was also the town that had their Colts stolen in the middle of the night in a Mayflower moving van. An event that had also caused my Baltimore born father to wake me up holding the picture of the van on the front page of the Columbus Dispatch. If any town deserved the Browns it was Baltimore. And it was my dream job.

So, I moved. And slowly, I fell in love. First with the town. The salt water in the air, the fog by the water, the strangers on the street that chat with you, the neighbors who know everything about you and ignore your oddities, a town that thrives on it's strangeness and it's heart.

My rugby team raised money by working one of the beer stands at the stadium. One day, beer sales were over, we'd cleaned up the stand, but the game was still going on. It was close to the end of the 4th quarter, the Ravens were behind but barely. It came up that I'd never seen a live professional football game. Someone made me go into the stadium to stand on the steps and watch the last three minutes. The Ravens had the ball, brought it down the field and Matt Stover came out and kicked a field goal with seconds left on the clock. It was electric. It was loud. I was hooked. I was home.

There are many things I love about the Ravens. We're always the underdogs. We play with heart. The fans fan with heart and fierceness. And, as a woman, a femme, a lesbian I have always been welcome. In this town I have yet to meet a man who looks surprised that I know a decent amount about football. When I go to the games, the crowds are diverse in age, ethnicity and gender. And when you walk around the city on Fridays and Sundays, a ton of folks are in purple. This is a football town.

I remember the last time the Ravens were in a Super Bowl. There was a crowd in my living room in Fells Point glued to the TV screen. Siragusa had a brilliant sack (of course). The defense scored most of the points. We won. I cried. I couldn't believe it. People spilled out of their homes screaming, yelling, hugging. It was amazing.

And now, more than a decade later, we're back there again. And I can't believe it again. No matter what happens Sunday, on Monday, I'll be hanging my #52 jersey in the closet. And I'll be a proud Raven's fan.

In the meantime, you'll be hearing more Ravens chatter from me. On Sunday, I'll be sitting in my lucky seat in the bar in Remington where people who know each and people who don't will share a series of moments that we'll never forget. We'll scream and yell and hug and probably cry. Because. It's football. It's the Super Bowl. It's tradition.

Go Ravens.

And, thank you, Mr Lewis, for 17 years. We're going to miss you. Your talent, your intelligence and your passion have been a gift to the Baltimore community we will never forget. May your next endeavors provide you with as much joy as you've given us.

Next week, we'll be back to sex.

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